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I had been using my rather out dated Sony Ericson ws800 for 2 years now and I decided it was time to upgrade. I already own an ipod so music playback wasn't that important to me I wanted something with power but style. My initial reaction was to start looking at conventional upgrades now a day's... the iPhone or Samsung galaxy but to be honest these didn't attract me very much. I continued looking around checking out the latest Ericson products, but then I came across a company I hadn't looked at for years. Nokia. I don't think I've had a Nokia phone in the last 10 years at least and started looking at their range.
I came across the Nokia Lumia 900. Initial thoughts were it looked very sleek and sexy with a modern almost tablet like look. I started looking through the specifications, 16gb hard drive, 512mb Ram and 8mp camera the standards everyone look for when buying a phone. I then noticed the operating system; Windows Phone. With all the hype on the market about IOS and android I had forgotten about this nifty little OS, just looking at its tile layout made me fall even more in love with the phone.
I walked into my local HMV store which has an orange shop built inside too and checked out the phone. I've got fairly big hands and I must say it fits perfectly however other people have said it has a bulky build for a smart phone. Just having a quick play around made me realise this was the phone I was going to be getting. I started looking at contracts to purchase it on but in the end I ended up sticking with pay as you go. The phone retails at £499.95 direct from Nokia on pay as you go but other companies such as orange in store it can drop to around £449.99 or argos at £389.99. However all the contracts I looked at all allowed the phone to be free with contract at £26 a month. I purchased it brand new on orange on eBay for £312 a massive price saving for a brand new phone.
After arriving 2 days later I was so happy and excited. I ripped through the sellers packaging and got to the initial box. It was covered in a sealed plastic wrap protecting the box from scratch damage. After removing this I was left with the blue box underneath with a picture of the phone and the name along with some numbers and I.D codes. I lifted up the lid of the box to reveal a slightly smaller plain blue box inside. I pulled that out and cut the seal tab across the front flaps.
I opened the flaps and began pulling out yet another box. It was very fiddly at first as there is no pull tab on the 3rd box and the box around it is solid, in the end I used a table knife just to lever it out a little so I could pull it out.
After the final box was out I knew this was it. I removed the top plastic/cardboard mould to keep everything secure in the box and there before me was the phone sat in a perfectly shaped mould to stop it from moving around in the box and getting damaged. I gently pulled out the phone and placed it on the table. I removed the mould it was sat in which was only around 1cm thick and revealed the hidden compartments below. There was a small box that included on the manual and warranty information and standard paperwork you get. A separate compartment housed the headphones nicely wrapped and tided in a clear plastic seal. This also included the sim key to get access to the sim slot.
Another compartment housed the charging adapter which I was surprised at. It was simply just a plug. I thought this was strange but noticed the usb port at the bottom and realised its charged through the usb both in a computer and through the plug.
-Admiring the Design-
When holding the device in your hand you can feel its heavier than other smart phones it also feels quite large but also powerful. The first thing you instantly notice is its massive 4.3" gorilla glass clear black screen. I've got the Black version of the lumia 900 and the screen really blends in with the body very well showing true black from the HD screen.
The whole body is in a rectangular shape but slightly curved to allow it to sit nicely in your hand as well lovely to look at. As a opposed to other phones on the market all the main buttons are placed on the right hand side of the phone, I thought this would be a bad point but it actually works very well and I adapted quickly to this set up. From the top of the right hand side you have the standard volume up and down buttons then nearer the centre the lock and unlock button and finally the camera shutter button. Along the left is a clear, extremely soft and nice to touch body that curves round to the back that just allows the body to flow.
Along the top of screen you have the standard "Nokia" logo and next to this a small front facing camera for video calls or using applications such as skype. I believe the front facing camera is 1.2mp so around average quality the same as on a standard laptop web cam if not better. At the top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack located in the far left side of the top of the phone. Unconventional to other phones having it located on the bottom right hand side, when using this I've found it a bit annoying as it means having to stretch the cable further but also when pulling the phone out of my pocket it means having to rotate it a little annoyance but i don't tend to use it that much.
Next to the headphone jack is the usb/charging port and then next to this the sim housing. Which can only be opened with the sim key or so I've heard a paper clip. This keeps the sim protected and safe within the body of the phone however it can be a bit of a fiddle to remove.
Along the bottom of the screen is the 3 menu buttons. From the left you have have the back button which when press and held opens up multitasking and recovering apps or windows you've closed or came out of by accident. In the middle we have the iconic windows logo (Home button) which when pressed takes you back to the main start screen of the phone and finally the search button which is directly linked to bing for speedy internet searching.
Finally the speaker is located at the bottom of the phone along with a few bits of lettering which are a bit of an eye sore and unfortunately can't be removed.
-First Start Up and Setup-
After the un-boxing I turned the phone on as much to my surprise it had a charge about 1/3 of the battery so a good fair amount however I connected the usb cable to the charging plug and plugged it in. For some reason it can be a little fiddly and hard to get it into the socket. The phone started up and presented me with a welcome screen and set-up guide. I ran through the options setting up language, time zone and the date and time. I was then asked to sign in to my windows live account so I input my login information and it signed me in. It automatically set up my email account my emails were coming through to my phone. My Xbox live information also became integrated with the phone and the Xbox live, live tile changed to show my avatar and gamertag.
-Start Screen/main menu-
Unconventional to other devices on the market today the Lumia 900 doesn't use icons to display apps on its home screen. Instead it uses a feature called live tiles. You can create tiles for any apps or features on the phone simply by pressing and holding your finger on its name. You can then re-order the tiles by simply pressing and holding one you can move each one to a new location. Like their name live tiles are in fact live updating their on screen to show latest tweets for example if you have a twitter tile. The background colour of the tiles can also be changed within the phones settings.
However as a downside due to the tiles taking up the entire screen there is no room for a background image so you either have a black or white background for the start screen. You also can't change the size of each tile your simply stuck with the simple square, however future updates of the windows phone will allow different sized tiles.
Located on the start screen is a small arrow, you can either press this arrow or simply flick your finger across the screen to the left to open up the main menu. Like the start screen on windows this displays the names of all the applications in your phone and links to features such as settings and camera. The list is listed in alphabetical order so finding the app you need is an easy task. Finally if you have a lot of applications you can use the search button that appears next to the menu to search through them more easily.
-Connecting People... But what happened to contacts?-
Your friends, family and work lives are no longer simple contacts in your phone. They are "people" located in the constant updating people application. The people application brings your windows live contacts, facebook contacts, gmail, twitter and almost any other platform into your phone allowing you to add multiple accounts to a single person allowing you to receive updates and contact them in anyway straight from the phone rather than using a separate application. You can also choose to filter out a specific range of contacts from an account for example if you don't want your facebook friends to be in your app you can hide facebook friends. However despite its amazing use of live updating and giving you an up to date summary of each persons facebook, twitter feeds and giving you a massive array of contact methods the intial design can be annoying. For instance when I first connected my windows live ID to the phone It imported all my windows messenger contacts something I didn't want and the only way to remove them was to delete them as contacts, this also included anyone I had sent an email to and added to my contacts. Handy if you have a work email address for instance but as a teenager it was just a bunch of old contacts I never spoke to from an application I never use anymore. However now I can use the people's app like a normal contact book but I can connect people to their own facebook accounts, email accounts and give other information.
-Organizing the life around you-
The phone comes pre installed with calculator, reminders and alarm clocks it also comes with a calendar which is very powerful to customize appointments and reminders. However its layout and getting use to using it can become a little frustrating at first. However a good feature of this is it connects to your windows live calendar and Facebook calendar. It displays your friend's birthdays, meetings, Facebook events and more.
-Calls and texting-
When making calls the sound quality from the speaker is standard nothing special or sound boosts however when on speaker phone the volume can be made pretty loud without impairing on quality. I've left my phone on speaker before and been able to hear my friend from down stairs. However you still have to come fairly close and speak louder in order for the phone to pick up what you're saying when you're on speaker phone. I've also been informed by friends and family that when I've been in a call with the phone up to my ear and I'm speaking it sounds like I am talking from inside a bubble. A bad point for me is when making a call or dialling when you press the end call button the phone takes around 1 or 2 seconds to register you've pressed it which has cost me money now and then. You can still use the phone and applications whilst you're in a phone call.
When texting/emailing the keyboard is very nicely laid out in the traditional QWERTY keyboard layout. When typing in landscape the keyboard is very easy to use and is just right in sensitivity. However when pressing the backspace button if you have fairly large hands you can accidently hit the send button or enter button which can be annoying. Also instead of being predictive or not predictive you have both in one so you can start writing a word and select a full word from a list however the auto correct is horrible. Even if you over exaggerate a word such as "Woooooooo!!" it will auto correct it to "Soo" or "Woo" You have to type the word and wait 2 or 3 seconds before pressing space or anything else to carry on writing a message. When using the keyboard in vertical view it can be a little tedious if you have bigger hands as the keyboard becomes smaller and more squished together.
-Internet browsing & Video Streaming-
Internet Explorer is built into windows phone 7.5 and the Lumia 900. Compared to Apples Safari it's almost just as fast but depends on your internet or mobile connection. You can have up to 6 tabs open which you can switch between by using the tabs screen. Unlike safari there is no back button built into internet explorer and instead you have to use the back button on the phone its self which if you use different applications or move to a text message it will bring you back to that as opposed to just staying within internet explorer.
Using Youtube's mobile site or application or other video streaming websites you are able to stream in true HD again depending on your internet connection but the Lumia is full HD ready supporting 1280 x 720 (720p).
The phones comes with a pair of 3.5mm headphones which are of standard quality like most headphones received with phones. When playing audio through the speakers it can be a little lower in quality however i've played a wide range of music genres and never experienced any crackling or disruption. For a mobile speaker its good quality and the volume can be increased to quite a high amount without affect quality that much.
"Microsoft Office - Windows Phone"
Built into the Lumia you have a full version of Microsoft Office Mobile. This gives you access to Word, Excel, Notes and Powerpoint. I have found this extremely useful when in lectures or needing to jot down notes in a meeting quickly. I've also found I can upload coursework and presentations to my skydrive (which you get free storage with the Lumia around 2GB) and edit make changes on the go and then attach them to an email and off to my lecturer they go. This has proven to be a life saver as opposed to getting a laptop out and finding a internet connection.
I've only mainly used Word, Excel and notes and they are all very powerful having the key features from their desktop counter parts. However only a brief help description is available on the phone and it can be a little confusing to start using at first.
This handy little app is amazing! It locates you and gives you information on restaurants, shops, cinemas, activities, train stations and more. Being in strange areas or visiting other towns this has been a massive help. You can select a place you like to receive contact details and address but also get a real time google maps/nokia maps directions to your destination by walking or car. Perfect if your in a new place or just looking for an activity.
After signing in with your windows live ID you are automatically signed into xbox live through the phone. You can check your friends, send and read messages and change your avatar. You can also download extra features for free such as companion so you can control your xbox through your Lumia! Using it as a remote control. The xbox live feature of the phone also allows you to download windows based games onto your phone like windows live on PC so you can bump up your gamer score whilst on the move. It also houses all other forms of games downloaded from Marketplace.
The equivalent of the app store or android store marketplace is the windows store to download apps, games and music. Unlike the massive selection of android and IOS, windows marketplace only houses around 100,000 different applications to download.
The Lumia 900 comes with a front facing 8mp camera with a built in LED light source for night shooting. Although the phone can view HD it cannot shoot HD video however still image resolution can be up to 3264 x 2448. It only comes with a 3 times digital zoom which drastically reduces quality the further you move the zoom in. Also when taking photos I've noticed the photos don't seem to be of 8mp quality and fiddling with the advanced camera settings are needed to achieve a perfect photo. However for budding photographers this camera might not be appealing to you. Although you do get a wide variety of settings to edit your photos you can combine this with the Nokia creative studio to enhance and add more effects to your photographs.
When recording in video, you have a large timer which takes up ¾ of the screen which can become annoying you are also locked to the zoom you have before starting the recording which can be annoying if things are going to be moving around or away from you such as being at the zoo or a concert.
After taking pictures or photos you can immediately upload them straight to your facebook account without leaving the gallery on the phone; a handy feature to share photos quickly.
I've been using this phone for around 2 months now and although it took around a week to get used to its been an excellent upgrade. The built in office features are perfect for my student life and work life whilst the built in social aspects of people make catching up and speaking to friends. From a social aspect I believe the Lumia is the most connected phone as other devices have only begun to integrate Facebook as where the Lumia brings all social aspects into one handy little application, it can just be a little confusing to use at first.
I've used the camera a few times but I find using a handheld camera gives so much better quality but I use the camera for quick shots and videos. Using the calendar has also proved kind of helpful however I tend to use the apple calendar on my iPod to organise things.
Overall this has been an amazing phone and I can't see myself switching any time soon apart from maybe up to the Lumia 920 for the wireless charging. One downside is the variety of applications available but that's not a major issue. I've found the battery life to be a little annoying of only holding around 8 hours from a full charge, but taking a usb charger is an easy way to charge it almost anywhere I go. I highly recommend this phone to students looking to work on the go and want to stand out with a new future proof and original system housed in a sleek and modern body. The Lumia 900 is going to be a large contender in the smart phone market from what I've seen.
*If there is anything you feel i've missed or would like me to talk about please feel free to message me and i will be happy to add it in.
At the age of 15 I decided my at the time desktop computer (a rather outdated Packard bell) didn't have enough juice for the programs, games and software I wanted to run. It also didn't have the mobility that a laptop would have and I started needing to take it to school to use in class. I started looking around various stores looking for something powerful but that has a unique design and style. Upon looking on Comets website I found one that caught my eye. The next day I popped into my local comet store just to check it out in person. I instantly fell in love with it, before even checking out the specs again, and so I checked out the money I had in my bank account and went in and purchased it 2 weeks later for the price of £559.99.
Under that price it also included 1 year's manufacturer warranty. Then on top of this I bought 2 year comet protection for £189.99. So in total £749.98 but with comet you can pay off the protection in quarterly amounts which was handy, seeing as I only had a part time job. Unfortunately they didn't have any left in stock apart from the display model so I was told I had to wait 3 - 5 working days for one to be sent to my home. One of the longest waits of my life!
Finally it arrived! I was so excited I just wanted to rip it open. I sat the parcel on dining room table and sat down, ready to delve in. It felt like a birthday come early. I removed the gray postage packing which revealed a light brown cardboard box with the HP logo on the side and lid with the words HP Pavilion Dv7 on the side and lid to.
I cut open the plastic tab and lifted up the cardboard lid. First thing I noticed was a few plastic wallets with booklets inside. This was my manufacturer warranty information and comet protection information. It also included leaflets for Microsoft office student 2007 and Norton Anti Virus protection.
Underneath the leaflets was a thin foam mould I removed this and this revealed a dark brown plastic wrapping. I pulled this out and carefully placed it on the table. I could immediately feel the weight of the laptop and it was quite a bit heavier than I expected. Underneath this was a few more plastic bags sealed in their own moulds to stop them from moving during transport. This was the power brick fairly average in size and of average weight and the adaptor cable. This was of a very good length as I could use it from one end of my bedroom, living room and dining room. Back to the un-boxing. I cut the safety seals on the plastic wrapping of the laptop and pulled the wrapping away to reveal a crisp clear black top.
-Checking out the Design-
The first I did after removing all the packaging was to gently brush my hand over the top of the pavilion. It was so smooth and I actually couldn't believe I had it. A laser etched design of swirls is onto of the lid and are an iconic symbol of the pavilion range from HP.
I slowly lifted up the lid to find a HP screen protector/keyboard protector cut to fit on top of the keyboard. I moved this away to reveal the laptop. The un marked glimmering screen looked astonishing I just couldn't wait to start video editing and editing photos on that. Then the keyboard, a black keyboard slightly sunken into the main body of the laptop all slightly curved for maximum comfort and finished with a hint of gloss for an even nicer view.
Above the keyboard is the power button with a backlit light effect. Next to this is a black space however when the laptop is turned on this turns into a touch screen effect to adjust volume, mute volume and enable/disable wireless. However on other models media playback buttons can be found.
Built in speakers can be found running along the top of the keyboard and below the power and touch screen buttons. The holes in the body to allow sound out have been so well placed and minimized that when using the laptop or evening just looking at it they flow with the rest of the design and become almost invisible.
Below the keyboard are the silver track pad and the right and left click mouse buttons. To the left and right of the track pad is a few silver swirls laser etched again into the body of the device. A HP media smart advertisement sticker can be found to the left of the track pad but can be carefully but easily removed from the laptop, although a little rub with a wet wipe may be needed to removed any sticky residue left over. Then on the right are a windows Vista Logo sticker and a safety notice sticker. Again the safety notice can be removed but I just left it and the windows sticker there.
On the left hand side of the laptop starting from the back is a VGA port for use with external monitors and another display port. From that there is a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired internet access and connecting to a wired network. From that is a built in HDMI adapter for connecting to a HD TV or HD Monitor. We then come to an eSATA connector and USB 2.0 connector. Finally beside these is a multicard reader and light to that flickers to show a card is being used. On the right hand side of the laptop there is another two USB 2.0 female ports and DVD RW/DVD-RAM disc drive with Lightsrcibe compatibility and finally the power adaptor input.
Finally on the front of the laptop is three buttons that flicker whilst the laptop is on and performing tasks, loading a disc. Whilst on the other side is a headphone jack and microphone input and another input that can be used as both. Using standard apple headphones I have always received high quality sound playback using these.
-The First Start-
I plugged in the power cable and turned the laptop on. It began booting windows vista and booted it up very quickly. I can't remember the exact boot time but it was around 30 seconds to a minute I believe. Upon entering my personal information and the general setting up of the laptop I was in. Everything working it even picked up my wireless network straight away asking if I would like to set up my wireless network.
I had a look around, a few links to websites such as eBay.co.uk were on the desktop and some game demos preinstalled from HP. Also included was a 60 day trial for Microsoft Office Student 2007 and a 30 day trial from Norton Anti Virus. A range of HP media software for webcam, video playback, laptop maintenance and other things.
-General Use First 4/6 months-
When first using it like whenever changing or using a new keyboard was a bit awkward at first but within around 10 minutes I didn't feel any difference and was very comfortable with typing. There was just enough body space for me to rest my palms on to quickly type with ease and comfort.
When using the track pad I found it fun at first, although its plain even surface can be a little rough and hard to use to move the mouse at times. Like pulling your feet along a laminate floor. When using the left and right buttons they were very responsive and still are today, but you can also tap on the track pad instead of using the left button. I also noticed when using the scroll on the track pad from time to time it wouldn't pick up part or all of the movement and wouldn't move the screen and instead I would see the mouse moving around the screen. I didn't like this and after around 3 or weeks I ended up purchasing a wireless mouse to use just as preference and ease.
I didn't have to adjust the screen settings for brightness, contrast or aspect ratio. Blacks were black and colours appeared vibrant and crystal clear. The brightness was just right for me, even using it in darker lighting it still seems perfect however when using it in front of a window or outside, the screen affected very bad from glare I had to tilt the lid drastically into an uncomfortable position to be able to use it.
Because it is a media entertainment laptop I was egger to start listening to music and watching HD videos. HP media start smart video and audio playback software wasn't too great and I ended up using VLC and iTunes. However the picture quality was amazing with again blacks being true blacks and HD video being true HD. The audio playback was also impressive; at full volume music could be heard throughout the house just from the laptop alone. I like almost all varieties of music and with all these different genres I found no crackling or issues with playback on full volume.
For the first few months battery life was brilliant averaging around 6 - 7 hours per charge. However HP has a nifty function that allows for switching between power modes: Power Saver, HP Recommended and High Performance.
-Six months to now-
So after around 6 months of almost every day use the laptop was going great I had started to fill up the 250gb hard drive so boot time had become a bit longer but the massive 4GB or RAM was still perfectly letting me run my memory eating programs such as photoshop and Sony Vegas. However one day when writing an essay the keyboard started feeling a little different. I didn't take much notice but then the left shift key and a few of the keys suddenly unclipped and popped off! I wasn't sure if it was me or the laptop. I rushed it to comet on the weekend and their technicians had a look at it and revealed the clips had came away with use and came away from the board, however they simply can't be clipped back on and so I had to send it off for a new keyboard to be fitted.
After a year that had been the only problem until i noticed the laptop getting extremely hot during use. I cleaned the fans and keyboard and used a compressed air canister to clear anything left but it still started heating back up again. I first noticed the keyboard getting hotter as I was typing then went to use the track pad and that was even hotter, I put my hand near the fan and it was like an electric warmer the heat coming out was shocking. I turned it off thinking it could be an electrical fault and took it to be looked at and it was reported in excellent working order. So I carried on using it, other people using the laptop also noticed the heat which can be fairly distracting. But this wasn't the worst part, an earlier problem occurred again. The left shift key, and right shift key had popped off as well as a few letters. I was so angry and took it back and comet again said the same problem had happened the keys had become unclipped. But they replaced it and the fans to solve the overheating problems and everything was working again.
Even with a ¾ full hard drive windows was still working great, I chose to use and continue with Norton Antivirus and that didn't seem to bog down the computer either. At times when I have been using Photoshop, Dreamweaver and running multiple browser windows it has become a little sluggish. But during playback of movies and streaming content from the internet it has been perfect with almost no sluggish behaviour.
When I purchased an external 1tb hard drive the pavilion seemed to struggle a little copying/pasting to and from the drive through the USB2.0 port and at times almost crashed the laptop however I've used other drives up to 500 GB and had no issues what so ever.
After both warranties expired I decided not to renew them. In which after a month the left shift key yet again fell off and now the left button the track pad has became lose. I believe the track pad button is through general use however I have never quite understood the issue with the keyboard.
The overheating issue has also came back and now I have had to balance the fan holes over the edge of the desk else the laptop becomes very hot and shuts its self down which has been happening more often lately. But after 2 years of no service this is expected. The display has never changed over time and still provides a crystal clear image which has been perfect for my digital media courses.
The laptop has a built in wireless networking card (WLAN: 802.11b/g) but also comes with built in Bluetooth and Bluetooth file sharing software. The wireless connection is brilliant and I can use the laptop anywhere around the house. I also used the Bluetooth application a lot however after a driver update it began to not work at times so I tend not to use it anymore.
-VGA to external monitor-
I've been using an external monitor for the past year with this laptop via the VGA connector and the laptop has no problems running the external monitor and with no performance issues. I've also connected the speakers from the external monitor to the laptop headphone jack which I can also use to have playback through the monitor.
As part of my course I had to do a lot of video editing and burning these off to submit. HP's DVD burning software wasn't very effective so I ended up purchasing Nero 7 for my burning needs. I've stuck with this all the way through and never had any problems. The keyboard becomes hot when DVD burning is taking place and also using other programs whilst burning slows the laptop up however the burning speed is brilliant allowing for up to x16 burning speed.
I've recently upgraded to Windows 7 Home from Vista on this laptop and is has had no problems running it. I've been able to use all the Aero features and run higher grade software like Photoshop cs5 on windows 7 and still have the laptop run fine.
The laptop has a built in webcam which comes with its on HP webcam software to add effects and scenes to enhance your videos or video calling. However I've had a few issues transferring control from the Web cam software to programs like Skype and Windows live messenger but a quick fiddle in the options seemed to get things working fine. However the camera is around 1mp and so not very good quality pictures can be achieved with this.
I still use this laptop now and then however I've recently upgraded to a few different devices for different needs. But this was and always will be my first "proper" computer. It was always powerful enough to run all the software I needed including games however it had a bit of trouble with World of War craft on higher detailed settings. None the less this laptop is perfect for introducing your teens into their first laptops/computers and it is perfect for schooling and editing media and video.
The HD quality and sound playback are also brilliant so you are receiving an entire media package in one from HP with their software and the high standard of hardware used in this laptop. Even 4 years on I would still recommend this as a first laptop or an upgrade to a media suite.
I've had regular use with this kettle in our common room. Using it along with other students several times throughout the day for the past 6 weeks and its a life saver. Being a massive improvement to our common room this year and helping us keep "switched on" during those long days.
Its never really stood out or had that wow factor and eye catching apeal. However its discret and simple. Boasting a sleek plain white design with a small glossy finish makes it fit with any room style with or colour. Having this white finish also makes it extremly easy to wipe clean.
It comes with a flowing handle built into the main body of the kettle which has a seamless design but comfortable fit. Although if you have bigger hands it can be a little bit of a tight squeze. When using the kettle straight after boiling the handle can become a little warm but nothing uncomfortable and is completely safe. The fatness of the handle allows for a good tight grip so you can pour away with ease without fear of dropping the kettle even if its cheekly been filled past the max level.
To begin the boiling process you simply flick the metal switch beneath the handle and off it goes. However there are no lights or flashing timers to make him stand out or a small alarm to tell you its boiled. There's a small plastic window on each side so you can see how much water you've got in there or incase you want to watch the bubbles as it boils. Depending on how big your cups are we've normally got around 3 full cups just on the minium level alone!
The kettle is cordless! So its perfect for us students who need to move it and pass it around the kitchen side to allow everyone full use. However because its a value kettle the base has a white connector which must be properly alligned in order to boil the kettle. This can be fiddly and annoying when you have a full kettle to boil.
It averages around 2 minutes normally to boil and this has been consistant from when we first started using it. So its life span has been amazing as its still good as new for the price it retails at.
Its a massivily underated product and is one of the biggest values of money i have ever seen. It might lack a little in the fancy lights but a simple design is all you need for this product because it gets the job done. Holding a good amount of water to keep those cuppas comming.
-Finding the product-
I wanted to take a look at the packaging so i poped along to tesco to have a look. It comes in simple cardboard box with only a picture of the the kttle and the Value symbol, In store its very easy to find and is at a very easy size to carry and take home.
So as most people might do i went through a phase of wanting to be a dj, so i started building my music collection ripping every CD in the house to my laptop. Very quickly and with the help of photos and various other documents my little 250G hard drive became very full to the point windows was so sluggish it would take almost 15 minutes just to load up programs like itunes, not handy.
I had no idea what i could do with all this data, i did some research and heard about external hard drives so i thought oh that's handy. I went up to Comet to see what they had on offer and i noticed a reduced Seagate Expansion Drive 1TB!! at £49.99 i snapped it up. I rushed back home to begin a very long day of copying and moving files.
Once home i began un boxing, opening the box and removing the drive along with the warranty information user manuals. I also removed the usb connection cable and the AC power adapter. Both nicely packed and secured with a cable tie to avoid damage. Everything was also nicely packaged and sealed in protective plastic covers.
The drive it's self comes in a matte black finish which in my opinion i believe it can work with any environment whether its home, office or school. The drive also has a sleek smooth curve on the front of the drive. This stops it from being just another black box to be forgotten about but a piece of your computer system and set-up and something to look at.
This was my first time using an external device but after a flick through the paper work i noticed it was simply plug and play very simple and easy to set up and they weren't lying. I plugged in the power adapter and usb cable and connected it to my laptop. a small light popped on that i didn't even realise was there and the drive started firing up making a small faint "werring" sound.
The message popped up for installing the devices driver software, from no interacting from me except plugging it in. After about 35 - 40 seconds the drive was installed and i could use it. I started by coping a few documents, photos and they were on there super fast! I've got usb 2.0 which the drive fully supports however causes lower speeds but it can also be used with usb 3.0!
Pre-installed on the drive is some Seagate software which offers you a cloud based storage service as opposed to their own product. This can become very annoying as it loads whenever the device is started, however it can be disabled and used for extra special backing up of files.
It was then i started getting to larger files, bigger folders and after 5 weeks of use i noticed a change. The drive started becoming slower the more that went on it as i expected but not to this extent. It also started becoming slower for starting up and actually letting me get access to the drive. I've done some research and this is recurrent in 1tb + Drives.
Whilst running and even after weeks of use the noise pollution is still un-heard of. Apart from a slight sound as the drive is starting up you wouldn't even know it was there if it was tucked away. One downside of the drive is having to use the power adapter which isn't really helpful for laptop users on the go. But this monsterus sized drive has more than enough space to backup all of your families data if you wanted to set-up a storage system on your home network for instance.
For the price i paid this hard drive does wonders its not particularly helpful with laptop users on the go but smaller usb power drives are available. There is more than enough space for any files you may need on the drive, however i experienced slower speeds as it became more slow. Its sleek design compliments my desk and set-up and the black finish allows it too be used with any environment and still look at home. For a massive storage solution then i highly recommend this drive!
So i needed a new keyboard a while back to use with an old desktop computer i finished cleaning up from my younger years and thought I'd add some style too. I thought back to when i was using the computers in my universities library and began searching for some similar models. I looked in PC world as they had some big deals on for Logitech devices.
It was then i came across the Logitech k200. Its sharp black colour and sleek curved design caught my eye. I then had the bonus of being able to try it out there and then as well as other models of keyboards right there in store. I fell in love with it instantly! The keys seemed to be at the perfect space for ease of typing and comfortable to touch. I just had to get it and for only £19.99.
Bagged up i took it home to try it out properly. I began un-boxing straight away. On the cover of the box is a simple photo of the keyboard whilst on the back is photos of it in use and on desktops. Upon opening i pulled out the keyboard sealed in protective plastic packaging to stop the keyboard from being damaged within the slightly thin cardboard box. The usb cable was nicely and neatly tied up, bound with a cable tie for added protection. Also included in the box was the warranty booklet and a brief help/set-up guide.
When pulling out and removing the packaging i noticed how light the keyboard actually is. The size 45cm X 15cm makes it a perfect fit for standard computer desks and fitted perfectly on mine. The black complimenting the fine oak wood.
I fired up the pc, running Windows Vista Home ready to use the new keyboard. I plugged it in to a free usb port and it was instantly installing. Using simply plug and play there is no fussing around with CD's and software/drivers to get it going. After around 20 seconds i got the message the device was ready for use. Simple fast installation and i was ready to go.
I fired up word just to try it out and i was quickly typing away. The keys are almost perfectly spaced apart for fast typing with a slight curve on the keys to give a comfortable fit for your finger tips. When typing at first it can feel a little like hard plastic however i found its very quick to get used and you can almost forget the keyboard is there. A feature i later realised from on the box was the spill resistance feature which i have yet to test however from closely looking at the keyboard i've tried it hard to find anywhere leakages could get in.
Another great feature of this keyboard it the hot key buttons for sleep, internet, calculator, volume and mute buttons. However i've yet to consistently try these out. I've tried the sleep and internet button which both seem to be quickly responsive, the internet button swiftly opening up your default internet browser. The usb cable is of a fairly good length and could easily reach the back port of a computer from a desk with ease. Also built into the bottom of the keyboard is 2 tilting legs, which i have found that i always use which raises the keyboard up from the desk at a better angle for use. However it all comes down to your preference.
I've used this keyboard for around 8 months and yet to have any trouble with it. The sleek curved design of the keyboard makes and excellent wrist rest for your hand. Even with the long periods of use and typing i've yet to experience any hand pains or distress. The keyboard has also been knocked a few times and pulled out and still there has not been a problem with it. Its highly reliable and resilient especially for the price i originally paid. For a simple keyboard with a few light media and quick press buttons at an amazing value for money this keyboard is a must have. With simple plug and play on any PC or laptop any computer users of any level should be able to handle this keyboard with ease.
My sister needed a new laptop seeing as using just a plain and simple netbook wasn't living up to the challenge. So i had a look around for a while for her to find something cost effective and practical. I started checking out the Dell ranges, i've always had good dealings with Dell products and they are normal excellent value for money and once again i wasn't proven wrong. I picked up the Dell Inspiron 15 from PC World for £349.99 a bargain.
I got it home and thought i would test it out install anitvirus, and other features to get her started. To the un-boxing.
It comes it a sturdy cardboard box. Upon opening the box the laptop is safely stored inside a foam mold to protect it from damage when it transit. after removing the seal strips holding the foam together i started removing the insides revealing the laptop. Inside stored in a sealed plastic sleeve is the warranty information, set-up guides and help manuals as well as few other bits and bobs for offers ect. Underneath these the laptop is secured in its only molded box to hold it in place and again stored in plastic to protect it from scratches and bumps. Also in their own compartments are the power cables safely stored in plastic bags and cabled tied to avoid damage.
The amount of protection taken on this model is an excellent showmanship of Dells excellent product quality.
-First Start Up-
I connected all the power cables and turned the machine on. Within around 30 - 40 seconds i was in too windows 7 an amazing start up time i thought. It came with a trial of Norton 360 and the normal links to Microsoft office and various sites.
Focusing on simply the design aspect of this model the Inspiron 15 looks remarkable a sleek and stylish design aimed for all users and environments. The overall dimensions of the laptop are Height 1.24" x Width 14.8" x Depth 10.24" making it a nice comfortable size for lounging around the house, school or office work.
It comes also with an amazing display that i find is very easy on the eyes in all lighting conditions whilst boasting bright and vibrant colours. A HD Ready screen size of 15.6" is your display perfect for everyday use, watching videos or playing games.
I've been using it for around 2 weeks and it still is running fine the start up time has increased to around 50 seconds to a minute but that's expected with more software installed. The performance is still excellent for the uses its needed for, document writing surfing the web and watching videos. However playing HD video games might slug up this laptop and its performance.
The keyboard and touch-pad are both lovely to touch and easy on the fingers to use. Very comfortable makes using for long periods of time not a strain on the hands. Perfect for schooling for example. However i have found that when using the laptop on your lap or surface for long periods of time the keyboard and touch pad can become hot for around 10 seconds before cooling back down again. Along with the base of the laptop this too can become hot when during long periods of use which could cause discomfort.
Using it around the house means no charger and the laptop still maintains high performance even without the charger plugged in. The battery lasts for around 6 hours depending on power level, brightness setting ect. But for a home style laptop this seems to be enough time for us to use and then quickly put back up stairs on charge. When charging from a empty battery a full charge takes around 30 - 40 minutes. So a minimal wait before you can be up and on the go again.
The overall size and weight of the laptop seem to fit perfectly from user to user in our household. Its lightness makes for easy mobility around the house and its size means its not distracting or needing its own space.
At our home i have been using Wireless networking with this laptop and from all around the house i have been getting constant excellent speeds. So streaming videos don't seem to be a problem. I've also set up her iTunes just to get her started. Audio playback on this laptop seems standard. Using built in Dell speakers standard throughout most of their laptop range. None the less you can expect good playback from this laptop however external speaker options are available too.
The laptop also comes with headphone/mic features and using standard apple headphones I've gotten excellent playback from this laptop.
I installed Office 2010 on this laptop and this seemed to affected performance very very slightly however when opening applications such as word and excel it can be sluggishness on some program start ups. However my sister has used it to open large school projects and essays with ease and no wait time. Again the same with saving, quick and simple however now and again you do get a slight pause on larger documents.
In the 2 weeks I've been using it as well as the rest of the family none of us has experienced any crashes, freezes or any issues and from Dell products i've used in the past they have a very good reliability and the inspiron 15 doesn't seem to disappoint.
-Under The Bonnet-
Down to the features and hardware. When i bought this it was on offer packing a massive 500GB hard drive witch can be upgraded to 750GB and even 1TB!! It comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium again updates to other versions can be bought but for this laptop Home should be enough.
Intel's mobile series 5 express chipset is used in this model complimented by a i3 Pentium Dual Core processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM making it a speedy little machine. The RAM can be upgraded up to 6GB DDR3 for even faster computing but for home and day to day computing this shouldn't be needed.
Finally is has built in Wi-Fi for faster networking and built in 0.3mp Webcam and microphone for video chatting and messing friends on the web. A optional Bluetooth card is also available with this laptop however most places offer a offer to include this anyway.
Effects on the environment are minimal it is powered by a 6 cell Li-Ion Battery so power consumption isn't a large issue with this laptop. It's also very well ventilated so noise pollution is very minimal except with the occasional burst from the fan after excess amounts of usage as from any other laptops.
The laptop comes with built in and pre set power saving functionality and power saving features as well as built in features in Windows to save power, cpu usage to increase performance.
Again however it can be come hot after long periods of use which can cause discomfort but a simple shut down and restarting should solve the problem.
After using this laptop and comparing it to Dells superb history it can be proven wrong. Its 2GB RAM can be a bit withholding but a an easy upgrade can solve this. Its very practical and easy to use and set up straight from the box. Perfect for home and day to day use but can be used for office, schooling work as well.
I think this laptop is exceptional value for money and is very easy to make your own. Dell has put allot of design effort into this series/model and its a design for everyone. Highly recommend this laptop as a first computer, school aid or just for around the house.
So starting another year of university and I felt I needed a new memory stick to be able to quickly store, organise and have another memory to store anything I would need for my course. I was looking around my local computer store and came across this. The new Kingston DataTraveler 100 G2 8GB edition. For only £17.99.
Coming in a pristine black casing with a almost futuristic modern design built from the ground up with simplicity in mind, allowing you to focus on quickly accessing your data at extraordinary speed.
Off the shelf and through delivery, the Kingston G2 comes in a sleek protective plastic casing. Moulded around the design of the device to ensure it is kept well protected, and to stop it from moving around during transit.
Also included is a few installation, compatibility guides and help documentation. Also included is the amazing 5 year manufacturer warranty information.
The current model comes with a whopping 8 GB memory space, providing you with more than enough space for documents, music, videos... anything. However if this still isn't enough space for you even bigger versions are available.
The memory stick uses a usb 2.0 so max read/write speeds are guaranteed. I've tested this memory stick on several different systems from different years and still managing 8mbs read speed and 4 - 8mbs.
Being a student I'm always concerned about protecting my data and ensuring its safe and no harm can come to the drive. Unlike most memory sticks this drive doesn't need a lid/cap. A sliding design safely stores the connecter within the casing stopping any accidental damage when it's in your bag, pocket or in use.
I've been using this flash drive for the past 6 weeks and I haven't had any problems. It's simple plug and play feature ensures easy installation on any system. Allowing you to get on and start using it with simple drag and drop to easily copy files. Fast transfer speeds allow you to focus on the other aspects of computing. I highly recommend this flash drive for university students and adults alike whether its for work, school or personal its perfect and has more than enough space for your needs. Tested on several operating systems and major games consoles and works perfectly and an amazing value!